WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and lead sponsor Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) issued the following statement on passage of the Accelerating Veterans Recovery Outdoors Act which would help expand opportunities for military veterans to heal and seek treatment through outdoor recreation and public lands. The bill was included as part of nine provisions in the Veterans COMPACT Act to address gaps in current law to ensure veterans in crisis can receive emergency mental health care regardless of cost and better address issues that may lead to suicide.

“Access to the outdoors can have a profound impact on our veterans’ mental health and a tangible effect on physical wellbeing as a part of comprehensive therapy,” said Reps. Adam Smith and Chris Smith. “Veteran assistance groups agree that access to nature, combined with other treatments like group activities, have positive therapeutic effects on veterans especially those struggling with combat-related injuries or post-traumatic stress.

“By bringing together stakeholders from veterans, environmental, and outdoor recreation organizations, the Accelerating Veterans Recovery Outdoors Act will help increase opportunities for veterans and their families to experience the benefits of the public lands and outdoors spaces that their service to our country has protected,” the Reps. continued. “We are proud to see the House passage of this bipartisan legislation, and we commend our colleagues for recognizing the need for this legislation to help our nation’s veterans and their families experience the outdoors – we urge our colleagues in the Senate to do the same.”